Five Blog Best Practices

Happy Friday! I'm linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar On The Run, and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What? for today's Friday Five. Thanks to these ladies for hosting this link up!

This week's topic is five blogs to read. I love finding new blogs to follow so am excited to read everyone's lists. This week I'm focusing on five great practices for blogs in general and the bloggers who do a great job implementing those practices.

1. Use quality photos and graphics.
Photos and graphics add visual interest to posts, and I think the majority of us like to see pictures. I don't care if it's a photo of your watch, your shoes, your outfit, or your cat, or if it's a funny stock photo. I like them all...except for the ones that are so distorted (upside down or sideways) or blurry that it's almost impossible to see what they are. This drives me crazy enough that when I come across really poor photos, I stop reading and leave the blog. The exception is if you're taking photos during a race and they're blurry. That's understandable. But if it's a still shot of your watch and it's so blurry that I can't make anything out? Why even post it? You don't have to be a professional photographer with an expensive camera to take decent photos. I think Jennifer of Run Jenny Run said she takes all her photos on her iPhone, and they are all gorgeous. I also love everything Shirley from Shirley Behind the Lens posts. If you don't have a photo, you can create a graphic, though that can take a lot of work. Courtney of Eat Pray Run DC does a fantastic job of creating beautiful graphics. I love her fonts, her colors, and just everything about her graphics.
Screenshot from Shirley Behind the Lens. She recaps her months
with both photos and text, which I love. Here's the full post.

2. Read your posts before you publish.
I have a separate post to publish about five grammar mistakes and how to avoid them (I've been a writer and editor for most of my career), but here I'm just talking about fixing basic typos and typing errors. It's common to have some errors, and I'm not advocating spending hours editing your posts. Simply reading through a post and running a spellcheck would catch most typos. Again, if I see tons of typos and formatting issues, I stop reading and leave the blog. If you want people to read your posts, you should make it as pleasant an experience as possible and, to me, that means fixing big errors so that readers don't stumble over them. The majority of bloggers I follow do a good job of checking posts before publishing, so it's hard to pinpoint one, but Carina from Carina's Running Career always has very well written posts that you can tell she combs through carefully.

3. Be social.
I think it's only courteous to respond to comments that you get on your posts. I know some people don't feel like it's necessary to respond to short comments like, "Nice job!" But if someone takes time to post a long and thoughtful comment, it's nice to respond even just to acknowledge that you read it. If I take the time and effort to leave a thoughtful comment on someone's blog and get no response, the chances of me commenting again are slim. Plus, if someone said to you in person, "Nice job!", you wouldn't just ignore them, would you? I try to respond to all comments because I appreciate every one! Another strategy many bloggers do is to comment on the blog of the person who commented on yours instead of responding to their comment. That works too. I think it's also courteous to visit at least once the bloggers who leave comments on your blog. You may not want to be a daily reader, and that's fine, but I feel it's just being an active member of the blogging community to visit and comment on other blogs. Again, the majority of bloggers I follow respond and comment regularly (maybe part of the reason I follow them?). But Holly from HoHo Runs does a great job of leaving very thoughtful (and funny!) comments. And Lacey and Meranda at Fairtyales and Fitness are also great at this. They are extremely active in the community, and there's usually a comment from them on pretty much every blog post I read.

4. Teach me something.
Whether it's little tips included in a weekly recap, a post about how hill training helped prepare you for a race, why you use real food instead of gels for fuel, or a review of a product, I love learning new things. I think everyone has knowledge to share that can help others. So many of us are trying to find the best things that work for us, so it's good to know what works for others. Nichole at Grey Shirt Running is a master at this. Her posts give a lot of detail about what works for her and why. She just recently posted some really good information on heart rate training and the stats that measurably show how it helped her.

5. Pepper your other passions.
Most of our blogs have one main focus, like running is for this blog. We all have other passions. Even if those things are something I have no interest in myself, I love hearing about what other people love. That's what makes us who we are! However, if I'm following a running blog, I probably don't want to read about another topic 95% of the time. It's better to pepper your posts with other topics instead of making the other topics the main course. Amanda at The Crazy Cat Lady Runner is a great example. I love that she has a unique blog name and theme that carries through to her posts in that she usually mentions and posts pictures of her cats. I've learned that one of her cats, Wilbur, hides in many different places with only his tail sticking out, and I love that! But if she were to only talk about and post pictures of her cats, I'd probably get bored since I'm reading her blog to follow her running. Gretchen from Gretch Runs also does this really well. Her posts are a nice balance of running, travel, cooking, and--my other favorite!--shopping.

There are many other great bloggers who have fantastic blogs and implement these and other great practices. Basically, if I follow your blog, then I think it's pretty great! I look forward to finding other blogs to follow so can't wait to read today's Friday Five posts.

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